Technology Made Fun
Women dominate the professional workforce in so many ways and yet, the tech world is still viewed as a boys club. But women are breaking down the door to the labs and forging ahead. Computer Science and Engineering majors are increasingly women, with numbers around 18-20 percent. According to Girls for Technology, only 28 percent of proprietary software jobs are held by women, and 25 percent of IT jobs are held by women.
Enter the Educator of the Year, Lacie Picou.
Lacie is the Technology Lab instructor at St. Francis De Sales Catholic School. Students in kindergarten through 7th grade all visit the Lab as part of their curriculum. For students in Pre-K 4, the lab goes to them.
Technology Lab is more than just your standard computer class. “We call it technology lab because it’s not just computers,” says Lacie. “I incorporate coding and robotics. We do a lot on iPads and with multimedia. We make stop motion movies and have fun with green screen projects. I try to incorporate as many different things as possible to give them a taste of what’s out there. We try and find new and different stuff to peak their interest in computers because they learn so much faster than we ever did.”
In her 19th year of teaching, Lacie says she enjoys her Technology Lab more than anything else. She credits the children she teaches with keeping her career choice fun and interesting.
“I learn just as much as from them as they learn from me,” Lacie laughs. “If I can’t figure something out, I’ll ask a student, ‘hey, do you know how to do this?’ or ‘do you think you could figure it out?’ We learn together.”
In Lacie’s lab, the students enjoy the creative challenges the most. She finds a way to even incorporate lessons from other subjects into her projects.
For example: Students designed and built a labrynth out of recycled campaign signage as a way of combining STEM projects with their Greek Mythology lesson. They then had to code the robot to go through the maze to defeat the minotaur.
For Lacie, the best part of it all is just seeing the light bulb click on. She encourages all her students, boys or girls, to forge ahead with the technology provided to them. “Most of the time, I just say ‘Go to work.’ It’s amazing to see how quickly they problem solve and how creative they are with everything.”
Her Lego League, however, has more girls participants than boys. Often the girls will ask to stay in the lab through their recess to finish coding or working on projects.
“I find that today’s girls versus when we were children, they’re a little bit more assertive, and there’s no gender bias between what boys can do and what girls can do,” said Lacie. “Girls can be engineers just like boys can, and I encourage it. I want them to embrace it. I want them to know this is not difficult: Don’t be afraid of the math. Don’t be afraid of the science. I love this too, and that’s why I get so excited about it with them.”
Lacie is also helping to lead the way for technology at St. Francis. The school will begin using Nearpod, which is an interactive presentation program. As the teacher goes through the lesson, the students can participate and answer via a handheld device. It helps keep the student actively engaged in the lesson. The school is also licensed for Google education and is in the process of converting to ChromeBooks in all classrooms.
With all the technology that is at the students’ hands, Lacie also incorporates Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety into each of her lessons.
“Safety is a huge component of what we do,” she says. “With children having internet and social media at their fingertips, we make sure to discuss etiquette when it comes to using these devices.”
Lacie received her award for Educator of the Year on January 25. The award is from the American Legion Post 31 and Terrebonne Foundation for Academic Excellence.
As Educator of the Year, Lacie is truly humbled by the honor and recognition. She feels that the honor represents more than just her, however:
“I was very surprised when I found out,” shared Lacie. “We do pour a lot of time and effort into what we do as teachers. It’s nice to be honored for my achievements, but I don’t think I’ve done it on my own. Your classroom is not built around one person. You’re only as good as your faculty, your support staff and your parents and students. Without any of them, I couldn’t be the teacher that I am.” POV